Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Medieval Era

CAROLINE L. HERZENBERG


Introduction

Until about a generation ago, women’s achievements in science were, with few exceptions, largely ignored in the historical record, and both scholarly and popular writings left the impression that women did not participate in science before relatively modern times. In fact, women have been practicing science and the precursors of science throughout the entire history of science and technology.

The last great scientist of antiquity was Hypatia of Alexandria; her birth in the year 370 was roughly contemporary with the burning of much of the great library of Alexandria, which resulted in great loss of the knowledge of antiquity. From the perspective of science, these events together may be regarded as marking the concluding era of late antiquity, which was followed by the Early Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages, or medieval era, is the period in European history between classical antiquity and the Renaissance, usually considered as running from the late fifth century to about 1350, with some authors extending this period to as late as 1500—a time span of about 1,000 years. Most of the records that we have of women’s participation in the practice of science during the Middle Ages refer to science in Western Europe, although there is also evidence of women engaged in theoretical and applied science in Asia, principally in Islamic, Indian, and Chinese cultures, and possibly even in the Western Hemisphere.

The medieval period was an age of faith and feudalism; European society as a whole was organized around feudal economic structures and the structure of the Christian Church. Throughout the medieval period, life was bitterly hard for most people and especially hard for women. Only members of the upper economic classes, primarily members of the feudal nobility and the hierarchy of the Church, had significant access to education or the leisure time to engage in scholarly activities. In the patriarchal society of the Middle Ages,

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Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Chronological Section- Changes in Myths of Gender over Time 1
  • Antiquity 3
  • Medieval Era 17
  • Renaissance 31
  • The 18th Century 43
  • The 19th Century 61
  • Early 20th Century 79
  • Thematic Section- Concepts of Gender in Different Contexts 93
  • Disciplines - Chemistry 95
  • Physics/Astronomy 103
  • Mathematics 109
  • Computer Science 115
  • Biology 123
  • Psychology 129
  • Medicine 135
  • Technology 141
  • Aspects of Human Biology and Behavior - The Brain 149
  • Cognitive Abilities 155
  • Mental Illness 161
  • Personality/Rationality/Emotionality 167
  • Endocrinology and Hormones 173
  • Menstruation/Menopause/PMS 177
  • Early Modern Health 181
  • Gender/Sex—How Conjoined 187
  • Homosexuality 193
  • Race 201
  • Nature/Nurture 207
  • Institutions - Women’s Education 213
  • Motherhood 223
  • Religion 229
  • Universities 235
  • Federal Agencies 249
  • Industry 259
  • Professional Societies 263
  • Discrimination 273
  • Women Scientists as Leaders 283
  • Nobel Laureates 295
  • Gender and Occupational Interests 319
  • Other Perspectives on Gender and Myths and Beliefs in Scientific Research - Feminist Philosophy of Science 325
  • Biologists Who Study Gender/Feminism 337
  • Historians of Science and Technology Who Focus on Feminism 347
  • Primatologists Who Focus on Females/Gender 357
  • Critiques of Science 365
  • Marxism/Socialism and Feminism/Gender 373
  • Ecofeminism 381
  • Cyberfeminism 387
  • Race, Postcolonial Gender, and Science 393
  • Feminist Science Studies 399
  • Women’s Health Movement 405
  • Science Fiction 419
  • Conclusion 427
  • Appendix of- Statistical Tables 437
  • Glossary 445
  • Bibliography 469
  • Index 481
  • About the Editor 501
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